Through long legislative session, we look forward to working with the Governor and State Legislature
CCM is the voice of municipalities. And every year, we develop a legislative program that you, our members, developed, vetted and approved so that we can take that voice to the State Legislature and the Governor with the assurance of 168 towns and cities. We are proud to announce the 2023 Legislative Priorities that sets the foundation for work throughout this year’s long Legislative Session.
1. Increased Funding for Local Education
ISSUE: The current mechanism to provide education funding does not meet the needs of Connecticut’s student population and is overly reliant on local property tax revenue. The cost for public education in our state is over $12.3 billion with local property taxpayers burdened with more than 50% of that amount.
RECOMMENDATION: 1) Accelerate the phase-in of the Education Cost Sharing (ECS) Grant formula, and increase funding of other education programs; and 2) Increase funding for the Special Education Excess Cost Grant.
2. Address the Shortage of Paraprofessionals in School Districts
ISSUE: Local school districts are having a difficult time hiring paraprofessionals because of the lack of a skilled and certified workforce due to retirements and attrition.
RECOMMENDATION: Address the shortage of paraprofessionals by developing and funding an enhanced pathways program to increase the number of certified paraeducators and increase the number of potential teacher candidates in the pipeline through the mentorship of paraeducators.
3. Increase PILOT Reimbursement to Municipalities
ISSUE: Property tax exemptions seriously erode the property tax base in many towns. Statewide, exemptions represent nearly 12 percent of the aggregated Equalized Net Grand Lists (ENGL). But this statistic seriously understates the issue for some communities. In 11 towns, exempt property, other than city-owned property, represents over 20 percent of the ENGL and in several the total is over 50 percent. While these are the most extreme cases, property tax exemptions affect every town in Connecticut, with the result that the taxes paid by non-exempt taxpayers are higher than they would be without the exemptions.
RECOMMENDATION: Fund current Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) at statutorily adopted levels.
4. Legal Notices
ISSUE: The requirement to publish full texts of certain documents and notices in newspapers is a costly mandate on towns and cities. During the Pandemic, the Governor issued an Executive Order allowing municipalities to publish meeting notices on their town’s website. While in effect, residents searched the town website for information on upcoming meetings and public hearings, which resulted in better attended meetings and greater public awareness and participation.
RECOMMENDATION: Allow municipalities to publish legal notices on a town website, rather than a newspaper or an abridged version in a newspaper and the full copy on the town website.
5. Prevailing Wage Thresholds
ISSUE: Prevailing wage thresholds for renovations have not been updated since 1991. The results of adjusting the threshold that triggers the prevailing wage for renovations will allow local governments to make more efficient investments in infrastructure without increased reliance on revenue provided primarily by local property taxpayers. While the prevailing wage threshold was adjusted to $1 million for new construction it has not kept up with inflation.
RECOMMENDATION: Increased threshold for prevailing wage for new municipal projects to $3 million and increase the thresholds that trigger the prevailing wage mandate for remodeling, refinishing, refurbishing, rehabilitation, alteration or repair of any public works project from $100,000 to $500,000.
6. Firefighter/EMT Recruitment and Retention
ISSUE: The majority of Connecticut’s municipalities fire suppression services are provided by volunteer firefighters. In recent years, towns have struggled to attract and retain these volunteers to adequately meet the needs of residents. In addition, local EMS services have been plagued by decreasing emergency medical technicians (EMT’s), which has been exacerbated by –among other things - increasing training requirements.
RECOMMENDATION: Support a statewide legislative task force consisting of local CEO’s, local fire and EMS personnel, and state officials from DESPP and DPH, to (1) examine the factors associated with the firefighter and EMT shortage, and (2) develop recommendations to address these shortfalls. This review should examine: a) Providing an income tax credit for volunteer firefighters; b) Developing a pipeline from colleges and universities into these professions; c) Offering tuition incentives for volunteers; d) Streamlining certification and recertification for firefighters and EMTs; e) Providing sustainable and consistent state-supported funding for training; and f) Creating different training criteria for men and women to become certified firefighters and EMTs.
There will also be several “Legislative Issues of Importance” that CCM’s Policy team will be keeping a close eye on. Shared Services, Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), Transit Oriented Development, the Removal of Dead or Infested Trees, Local Mental Health Services, School Security, Workforce Housing, Complete Streets, and Virtual Net Metering Cap will all be on our radar throughout the session.
Rest assured, the voice of municipalities will be heard and we will be at the forefront of policy discussions in the 2023 legislative session.